Reston, VA

Neighborhood safety dominated a virtual town hall by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn last night. 

The town hall was called to discuss the ways in which the Fairfax County Police Department is acting to keep the Hunters Woods neighborhood safe in the wake of an active homicide investigation, as well as a growing concern from the community regarding the increase in gunshot reports around Reston and the Hunters Woods neighborhood.

FCPD Capt. Thea Pirnat discussed that while there is an increased number of gunshot reports in the area, that doesn’t necessarily mean there are increased gunshots — it could mean that the community is doing a better job reporting data. However, the Reston District Police Department is still working to increase police visibility in the neighborhood to deter crime. 

The department is also increasing patrols in the neighborhood through a crime suppression team, according to Lt. Marc Mitchell. The department has also been sending out bike patrols as an increased presence to help build trust and rapport with the community members.

2nd Lt. Erin Weeks discussed the current status of the homicide investigation, urging the community to come forward with tips or reports to help guide the active investigation. Weeks said that the detectives are actively following up on ledes and that she is “confident that we are going to solve this case.”

Jose Lorenzo Guillen Mejia, 24, of Reston, was found dead near a walking trail in the summer of 2019 near a wooded area between Hunters Woods Plaza and Breton Court. Mejia was found with trauma to his upper body and was pronounced dead at the scene.

PFC Katy Defoe, the Crime Prevention Officer at the Reston District Station, encouraged community members to pay more attention to their surroundings as they go about their daily lives so they can act as good witnesses if necessary. 

Defoe also presented a series of contacts organized with the Hunters Woods Neighborhood Coalition that community members can keep in mind in emergent or non-emergent situations, including:

  • 9-1-1
  • Police non-emergency line: 703-691-2131
  • Embry Rucker Center Outreach Worker for unsheltered medical attention: 571-323-1399
  • Mental health crisis assistance: 703-573-5679
  • Fairfax Detoxification Center: 703-502-7000

PFC Brandi Horita, Reston District Station’s Community Liason Officer, also discussed cityprotect.com and the Fairfax County Crime Solvers program as two resources for community members to watch police activity and to promote awareness and crime prevention strategies.

Another virtual town hall will be taking place on Feb. 4 at 5 p.m. with more details to come. 

Screenshot from the Hunters Woods Town Hall/YouTube

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Hunters Woods Neighborhood Coalition and the Fairfax County Police Department Crime and Prevention Unit are planning to clean the Reston Association trails and Hunters Woods Village Center later this month.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, October 17, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the event description said.

Volunteers are asked to meet at the Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road), wearing gloves, sturdy shoes, and dressed appropriately for the weather – rain or shine.

Further questions can be emailed to Katy Defoe, [email protected]

Photo via Reston Community Center/Facebook

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Reston Association’s proposal to repurpose the Hunters Woods Ball into a more welcoming community area is moving forward.

The association is working with Kimley-Horn Associates to activate the site. A pathway is proposed around the perimeter of the site, along with a walkway that cuts through the area.

“The purpose is to activate the site and make it more usable and interesting to the surrounding neighborhoods,” RA wrote in its proposal.

Community features like a rain garden, library book share, landscaping, and a mile marker sign are also proposed on the site.

The plan heads to RA’s Design Review Board for a vote on tomorrow (Tuesday). Because the proposal impacts a significant area of the site, a minor site plan is required for approval.

RA worked with neighboring property owners and associations to move forward with the project.

In written testimony submitted to the DRB, the Hunters Woods Village Condominium Association voiced its full support for the project.

“The repurposed ballfield can be a great example of RA listening to its neighborhoods and moving forward smartly,” wrote Julia Doherty.

Doherty added that the proposed design makes good use of the area’s natural beauty and creates a welcome educational space near a stormwater collection area. The proposed walkway also gives residents more options to walk in the area beyond the parking lot of the condominium.

The complete proposal is available online.

Photo via handout/RA

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Plans to reactivate the Hunters Woods Ballfield — which is behind Reston Community Center — are moving forward after Reston Association’s Board of Directors approved a conceptual plan at a meeting last night (Thursday).

RA is working with community stakeholders, including the Hunters Woods Neighborhood Coalition, to reactive the site, which is no longer used by Reston-Herndon Little League due to its long distance from the nearest parking lot.

The conceptual plan, developed with the help of architecture firm Kimley-Horn, would repurpose the area into common open space with a pathway, entrance to the field, additional trees and landscaping. More features would be installed during later phases, including:

  • A library book share
  • Sledding hill
  • Meadow
  • Imprinted concrete
  • Perennial garden
  • Raingarden
  • Mile marker sign

“We want to build that excitement,” said Larry Butler, RA’s Chief Operating Officer. Butler said local stakeholders are excited about the project.

The board authorized funds last year to repurpose the ballfield. Plan to install additional pathway lighting in the area — which were originally presented alongside the repurposing proposal — is expected to come before an RA committee next month.

With the board’s approval secured, the plan will be presented to Fairfax County planners and RA’s Design Review Board.

A cost estimate for the project was not immediately available, but surveying, engineering and permitting could cost around $25,00, Butler said. Grading will require a minor site plan.

RA Board President Julie Bitzer described the proposal as a “passive park.”

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Reston Association’s Board of Directors will meet today (Thursday) to discuss a concept plan for the Hunters Woods Ballfield and plans to reopen pools for this year’s season.

The meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom.

Design consultant Kimley-Horn created several concept images to repurpose the Hunters Woods ballfield, which is located behind Reston Community Center Hunters Woods. Design sketches show the space would largely be maintained as open space, with the addition of trees and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.

The Hunters Woods Neighborhood Coalition is encouraging RA to repurpose the ball field, which is no longer used by the Reston-Herndon Little League. So far, a pathway lighting project north of the Hunters Woods Village Center is under consideration, with roughly 16 light poles at a cost of $100,000.

The board could approve a concept plan, which would then be considered by RA’s Design Review Board and county planners. More details are expected at the meeting.

RA will also discuss plans to open more pools. So far, only four pools will reopen on June 29, with several restrictions in place. The full agenda is available online.

File photo

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Police have made an arrest nearly one year after a body was found near the Hunters Woods Village Center.

A teenager has been charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of a Reston man.

Detectives believe the 17-year-old suspect was involved in the 2019 murder of Jose Lorenzo Guillen Mejia.

His body was found by police officers on June 23 at around 1:45 a.m. Police responded to the scene after a reporting of gunshots along a walking trail between Hunters Woods Plaza and Breton Court.

An autopsy found that Mejia died from several gunshot wounds.

The arrest was made after police obtained a felony petition for first degree murder yesterday (Tuesday).

The suspect was already incarcerated at the Fairfax County Juvenile Detention Center for an unrelated offense when he was served the petition.

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The Reston Association is seeking several candidates for seats on its Board of Directors for the upcoming election in March.

There are currently four open positions on the board for 2020 and include two at-large positions, an apartment owners’ seat and the Hunters Woods/Dogwood District seat.

One of the at-large positions is for a one-year term while the other is for a three-year term.

Candidates must be a Reston Association member to qualify for a position and announce their candidacy by Jan. 24. People can email RA if they have questions.

There will be a meeting on Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. in the Reston Association Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive)  for anyone interested in candidacy.

Photo via YouTube/Reston Association

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A new volunteer tradition aims to keep the Hunters Woods neighborhood clean.

The first annual Hunters Woods Clean-Up Day will take place on Sunday (Nov. 3) beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the Hunters Woods Fellowship House (2231 Colts Neck Road). Volunteers will improve the appearance of the neighborhood, according to the event’s Facebook page.

The event is sponsored by the Hunters Woods Neighborhood Coalition, which will provide the supplies for volunteers including gloves and trash bags.

During the event, volunteers will clean neighboring areas ranging from Hunters Woods at Trails Edge to Hunters Woods Village Condominiums.

All community members are welcome to swing by help the cause.

After the event, snacks and hot drinks will be provided for volunteers, according to the event page.

Image via Google Maps

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Public Art Reston is hosting an unveiling of public art on the Colts Neck Road Underpass project — a project that is the amalgamation of hundreds of drawings by community members.

The public unveiling is set for Wednesday (October 16) from 6-7 p.m. The free event will also includes ice cream.

The underpass is accessible from Hunters Woods Village Center and from Hunters Woods at Trails Edge. Parking is available at Hunters Woods Village Center.

The piece is titled “Thoreau’s Ensemble.” Ben Volta, the Philadelphia-based artist behind the work, was inspired by poet Henry David Thoreau’s quote, “Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reference.”

Volta asked community members and residents to draw a path and add components that make Reston stimulating and worthwhile. 

The final design was by approved by Reston Association’s Design Review Board earlier this year. The project is made possible through a partnership with Public Art Reston, Atlantic Realty Companies, and RA.

Photo via Public Art Reston

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Reston Association plans to explore ways to repurpose the Hunters Woods Ball Field using funds originally allocated for path lighting near Hunters Woods Village Center.

The field, which is located behind Reston Community Center, is no longer used by the Reston-Herndon Little League due to its distance from the nearest parking lot.

RA’s Board of Directors approved a motion to reallocate funds previously approved for pathway lighting at a meeting last Thursday (Sept. 26) to design, study and implement the project.

In tandem, RA plans to install 16 lights near the village center and the ball field. The roughly $100,000 project uses $81,300 in proffer commitment funds from the developer of Hunters Woods at Trails Edge, a senior living community on Colts Neck Road. The proffer is designated specifically for path lighting and cannot be used for any other purpose.

Larry Butler, RA’s Chief Operating Officer, said staff will work with the community to brainstorm possible ideas for the ball field. The Hunters Woods Neighborhood Coalition — which has long advocated for pathway lighting to improve safety in the area —  requested that RA examine the issue.

“We could do a lot of things there,” Butler said, adding the plan is in its early phases.

In a July 19 letter, the county’s planning staff indicating the ball field is classified as open space, which is designed for scenic or recreational purposes.

Meanwhile, RA is working with Dominion Energy to develop preliminary design plans for the pathway lighting project. The latest plan — which Butler said addresses the “area of most concern” —  is a scaled-back version of a 2014 plan to install 52 lights, which faltered due to limited funding.

The cost of the study is unclear, especially because RA will likely engage with a design architect to determine constraints on the site, including utility polls, Butler said.

The preliminary design calls for 16 LED, shoebox lights likely spread out by about 80 feet. The original plans did not call for LED lights.

Once plans are in place, the project will head to RA’s Design Review Board for a discussion and a vote.

File photo

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A local artist will debut her floral quilts and fiber art at a new exhibit in Reston next week.

Anne Smyers is the creator of “Sat It With Flowers,” an art installation that embodies her “love of flowers and propensity to work with botanical images,” according to the Reston Community Center event page.

The installation opens Monday, Sept. 16, and runs until Oct. 31 at RCC Hunter Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road).

“Her work is informed by interests, including gardening; a lifelong practice of tai chi chuan, which is a Chinese meditative movement series; and her artistic eye that looks for the best arrangement of a given set of elements,” RCC said.

A free reception will be held from 2-4 p.m. next Sunday, Sept. 22, at RCC Hunter Woods. Smyers will speak at the event, where there will be refreshments for attendees.

Photo via Twitter/Studio Art Quilts

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At a public meeting on Monday (July 29), local police turned to the community for help as it investigates a suspicious death that happened behind Hunters Woods Plaza in late June.

Local law enforcement and Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins met with the community Monday night to discuss the ongoing investigation.

Jose Lorenzo Guillen Mejia, 24, of Reston, was found dead near a walking trail on Sunday, June 24 near a wooded area between Hunters Woods Plaza and Breton Court. Mejia was found with trauma to his upper body and was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Remember, the information you have, regardless of how trivial it may be, could be the critical link in solving this case,” according to handouts distributed during the meeting.

Police encouraged anyone with information about the incident to contact the Major Crimes Bureau at 703-246-7800. Tips can be submitted  by calling 1-866-311-TIPS or by texting “TIP187 plus the messages CRIMES.”

Photo via handout/FCPD

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Police are investigating a suspicious death after a man’s body was found near the Hunters Woods Shopping Plaza.

Fairfax County Police found the body after responding to a call about shots fired around 1:45 am. on Sunday.

The body was found in the woods near a walking trail. No other information was immediately available.

Photo via FCPD/Twitter

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Now that spring has finally arrived, warmer weather will invite locals outside to mill around Reston’s many shopping areas.

While Reston has an abundance of stores at Plaza America, Reston Town Center and the Spectrum, one of Reston’s unique design elements lies in its mix of residential and retail at its five village centers.

The first one — the Lake Anne Village Center — looks almost the same today as it did in 1976.

Many of the other village centers, though, are undergoing transformations, including South Lakes and Tall Oaks.

The Hunters Woods Village Center, which saw most of its original buildings demolished and replaced with more modern retail in the 1990s, is on a 2017 list of potential spots for new residential development put together by the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning.

Meanwhile, North Point Village Center has seen retailers and businesses leave and open. Most recently, a Thai restaurant opened at the village center.

Reston Now wants to know if there is a certain village center you frequently visit or really love going to.

Photo via Courtlyn McHale/Flickr

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After a year-long hiatus, the Reston Association’s Pedestrian Lighting Working Group made a comeback at the Design Review Board’s meeting last night (March 19).

Working group members Larry Butler, Rick Landers and Bill Burton presented a progress report as a first step toward developing specific lighting guidelines for RA properties and pathways.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ recent call for more streetlights around Reston and some criticism of the lighting at the Sekas development along Sunrise Valley Drive renewed the focus on the lighting, Butler said.

“Lighting is going to be at the forefront for some time to come,” Butler said.

The report highlighted two main goals:

  • development of “contextual application guidelines” for lighting
  • prioritization of pedestrian lighting in the community — common areas including pathways and recreational amenities, transit station areas and clusters

Butler said that the working group is also adopting some guidelines from the Reston Annual State of the Environment Report (RASER).

Burton showed the Design Review Board the Reston lighting map that was created by overlaying existing pathway lights on a new land use map. Burton said that the working group members walked or biked Reston pathways and corridors to note areas of no, low, medium or high lighting.

The map has four main zones:

  • zone 0: areas with no existing lighting for areas where RA wants to preserve darkness
  • zone 1: traditional residential areas — most of the Planned Residential Community — that may want additional lighting
  • zone 2: village centers, brightly lit schools and athletic fields that will need future lighting replacements
  • zone 3: transportation corridor and Reston Town Center

In addition to marking the traditional RA pathways, the map also notes travel corridors along certain roads that bicyclists and pedestrians might frequently use.

The map is meant to serve as a template for the Design Review Board’s review of lighting requests, he said.

Identifying areas that need more lighting is just one step.

“We want to do it right,” Butler said, mentioning LED lights on timers.

Landers added that the technological advances in LED lights provide more options for dimmer or brighter lighting, along with being more energy-efficient.

Vice Chair and Architect Member W. Neal Roseberry praised the three working group members for their effort, which has broad appeal to Restonians. “I think this is really pretty common sense,” he said.

While the Design Review Board supported the map and expressed a desire in making a future action item around lighting, Richard Newlon, the board’s chairman, questioned how much detail should get decided around lighting while still creating an enforceable guideline.

In addition to the progress report, Butler also gave the board a preview on other actions the working group is taking.

A pathway lighting project in Hunters Woods that the Design Review Board approved three years ago now has renewed interest because of a proffer commitment from Atlantic Realty — the developer behind the Hunters Woods at Trail Edge senior living facility — to add new pathway lighting

“We’re working with Fairfax County to get an interpretation on that proffer as to whether or not that money can be joined with our project, our current funding so that we can do lighting down there, because we don’t have enough money to do the whole project,” Butler said.

Butler said that he expects the working group to come back to the Design Review Board in April or May with information on the $81,300 promised in the proffer.

“The face of Reston is changing,” Butler said. “We want to make sure the lighting keeps up.”

Images via Reston Association/YouTube

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